'Incorrect' | 

Michael D Higgins criticised over 'far-fetched' comments about Nigerian church shooting

'Alluding to some form of politics of climate change in our situation is completely inappropriate'
Allan Preston

President Michael D Higgins has been criticised by a Nigerian bishop for making “incorrect and far-fetched” comments on a shooting massacre earlier this month.

As reported by RTE, Mr Higgins had released a statement of condolences after 40 parishioners were shot dead.

Carried out at St Francis Church Owo in Ondo State on Sunday, June 5, gunmen wielding AK-47 rifles and explosives attacked the congregation at the church during mass.

A further 87 people were injured in the attack with 61 still in hospital,

It’s reported that the authorities suspect the insurgent group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) were responsible but so far no group has claimed responsibility.

Mr Higgins had released a statement, saying the attack at the church "is a source of particular condemnation, as is any attempt to scapegoat pastoral peoples who are among the foremost victims of the consequences of climate change".

He added: "The neglect of food security issues in Africa, for so long has brought us to a point of crisis that is now having internal and regional effects based on struggles, ways of life themselves.”

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Responding, Bishop of Ondo diocese Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, said the statement was "incorrect and far-fetched".

"To suggest or make a connection between victims of terror and consequences of climate change is not only misleading but also exactly rubbing salt to the injuries of all who have suffered terrorism in Nigeria," he said.

"Alluding to some form of politics of climate change in our situation is completely inappropriate.

"Such comments associating banditry, kidnapping and gruesome attacks on innocent and harmless citizens of Nigeria with issues concerning climate change and food securities are deflections from the truth."

The bishop continued that it is "the responsibility of every one of us to take case of our earthly home," but said it was not right to “project any form of ideological agenda” on to the tragedy.

He also noted the strong connection with the church in Ireland, as Irish missionaries had “laid the foundation of the faith for us in this part of the world.”

The local community, meanwhile, he said was still mourning the loss of those killed in what he called a “satanic” attack.

"The victims of terrorism and indeed all the people of Nigeria would be thankful if world leaders propose fruitful ideas to the government of Nigeria on how to protect the citizens and make Nigeria a safe place to live." he said.

"This would be a better way of honouring the victims of hate and putting an end to the increasing killings."

The office of the Irish President has been contacted for a response.

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